How to Save a Life

David Anthony Walker
2 min readMar 26, 2020

A woman called my name from across the room. I recognized the urgency in her voice. It signaled an emergency, and she rightly expected me to do something. Next to her was an unresponsive body surrounded by a sea of onlookers. Time slowed. Then, all at once, I could not hear anything. People directly in front of me seemed far away.

A dozen separate thoughts flooded my mind. They came so fast that I could have easily drowned in them. Suddenly, the waters parted, and I could think clearly. My attention rushed back into the present. It felt like several minutes had passed, but it had only been a few seconds. A crisis is revealing. It asks, “Who are you?” I am a nurse, and it was time to save a life. Performing CPR on a plastic torso is one thing. It is quite another thing to look down and see a body turning pale, becoming more distant as if it were falling. Every chest compression forces blood throughout the body. Every rescue breath fills the body with oxygen.

The moment called me to bring a body back to a person, back to a spouse and a parent, back to an entrepreneur and a friend. I did my best. Sometimes it is enough. Sometimes it is not. This time it was. As a nurse, I am always waiting at the threshold between here and the hereafter. At any moment, I could be called to pull someone back within the boundaries of this life. Any nurse could be called to save a life.